Introducing Our New Writing Fellows!

by Community Change | August 27, 2014 3:05 pm

For the past two months, Laffon Brelland Jr., Tamika Middleton and Elois Freeman have been participating in a Writing Fellowship pilot program at the Center for Community Change.

In order to get the word out there about the true life experiences of the people who are struggling to get by in this economy, our Writing Fellows have been interviewing members of the low-income community and writing their stories. Through the storytelling process, the Fellows are helping the Center achieve one of our primary goals of elevating the voices of low-income people and especially low-income people of color in order to help them build the power they need to effect the change they want to see in their communities.

What is different about this program is that our Writing Fellows are helping to tell the stories of folks who are struggling to make ends meet from the perspectives of those who have walked in their shoes. In their own ways and through vastly different life experiences, all three Fellows have come face to face with economic hardship at one point in their lives, and all three are now strong advocates for change and justice within their communities. Here are their stories:

Laffon Brelland, Jr.Laffon Brelland Jr. is a student studying English at the University of South Carolina. He comes from a hard-working, middle class Black Latino family. As someone who has experienced first-hand the pain of losing a family member to deportation, Laffon is particularly interested in discussing the intersection of our broken immigration system and poverty, but looks forward to the opportunity to examine new aspects of America’s economic injustices as well. Laffon is excited to work as a Writing Fellow because he believes that the storytelling process is key to getting the public to understand that “we are people before we are poor.” He enjoys helping Community Change in their goals to communicate the financial hardships of people like him so that it will inspire others to join the movement. He believes that this storytelling project will allow people the opportunity to be truly heard and understood. Click here to read Laffon’s blog responding to Paul Ryan’s proposed “anti-poverty” plan from earlier this month.

Tamika Middleton 2Tamika Middleton grew up in a Gullah Geechee community on rural St. Helena Island, South Carolina.  Proud of her culture and heritage, she committed herself early on to examining and fighting against racial, gender and economic oppression.  Her experience during her first pregnancy as a young, uninsured and underemployed mom solidified her commitment to provide care for women from under-resourced communities.  She has lived this commitment through her work as an organizer, writer, performer, and birthworker.  The desire to amplify the stories of these women and their communities brought her to the Center for Community Change. You can read Tamika’s recent blog reflecting on how racial and economic inequality contributed to the events in Ferguson, Missouri here.

Elois Freeman 2Growing up in a family of fierce activists in the segregated South, Elois Freeman was always taught the same message: “Though you get messages from the White society that you are not as good as them, you are just as good. Trust Jesus, work doubly hard, hold your head up high, live your life to stand for what is right and serve others.” This wisdom guided her decision to teach children in public and parochial school for 30 years. After retirement, she devoted countless volunteer hours working to organize parents and citizens to educate them on their rights and empower them to speak up in order to bring about improvements to housing, education and healthcare in their community. During this time, Elois also worked as an unpaid caregiver for her ailing mother. Elois is honored to be a Writing Fellow at Community Change to collect and share stories of those who are impacted by poverty with the goal of building that social movement.

Check back with the Community Change blog for more updates and stories from our Writing Fellows!

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